Financial Help!

During the month of October we have noticed a sharp increase in the number of people asking for financial help. We have processed well over 20 applications this month. That does not include the phone calls we get just asking if we can help.

What I am noticing is that many other organizations do not have the resources to help people and are referring them to NewPointe Community Church. As things get tougher economically, not only do individuals and families struggle more but non-profit agencies and small businesses struggle as well. If you were having problems before the downturn, it is amplified now.

I see our Helps ministry as a way to show the love of Christ to hurting people. Financial problems are usually just a symptom of much deeper problems. People come looking for help to pay a bill, but there are many other bigger problems below the surface. The way we try to help these families and individuals is to help them learn new behaviors and stop bad behaviors.

We first have an application that must be filled out and we get a copy of their drivers license. If they do not attend NewPointe, we require that they attend two services before we give them any assistance. Once they have met those requirements we give a limited amount of assistance. After that we try to get them to meet with a financial counselor to help them fill out a budget and put a plan together. If they are willing to do that we will consider future help. If they do not, then we will not give any more assistance.

For people that really want to make a change, we work very hard to help them and equip them to get a grip on their finances. We also try to encourage them spiritually and emotionally.

This ministry can only happen if people donate to our Helps Fund. All of that money goes directly to families and individuals in need. We collect money at our First Wednesday service that we hold once per month. The next service is next week November 5th at 7:00 pm.

Nearly all the people looking for help are willing to come to two church services. Some cannot because of transportation issues. We believe they will be impacted in some way by hearing the word of God and being around other people that are worshipping God. Our desire is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. For some this is through our Helps ministry. Helping them pay the rent or utilities and helping them develop a budget or find employment can be the first step in getting to know about Jesus.

We also offer a couple of classes on finances. One is called Financial Peace University and the other is called Crown. Both teach people about what the Bible says about money and possessions and how to handle them in a practical way.

I try to treat each person with respect and as a person, not a number or application. Many times I will pray with these folks after I meet with them to try to encourage them. I realize that some are out trying to get a handout and are not interested in making any changes. A lot of those folks don’t come back or do not follow through on what we ask them to do. That is why we have a system in place.

Helping people when they are down is what we are called to do. Sometimes we kick people when they are down, by judging, blaming and criticizing them. It is similar to the good Samaritan story in the Bible, do you go to help them or walk on by?

Intimacy with God

When was the last time you got alone with God and just praised Him? I mean, really praise Him, not thank Him or question Him or ask Him for anything. A couple of days ago I did that. I have been getting up early in the morning to pray and read my Bible. This is a discipline I am trying to establish in my life. I don’t do it every morning, but the majority of mornings I have been doing this.

I have been reading in the book of Revelation the last couple of weeks. I am going very slow, through my NIV Study Bible. I read the Scripture and then the notes. Then I reflect on what I read, not more than one chapter at a time. As I was reading in Chapter 4 I came across a portion that described how God was being praised and worshiped in heaven.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” When I read that, I stopped and read it again. Then I read it out loud several times. Then I closed my eyes and repeated this about ten times directly to God. Each time I said it, it felt more meaningful and powerful. I was not just chanting something mindlessly, I was praising the Almighty. I pictured myself at His feet worshiping Him.

After I had prayed that to God I did the same with another portion of Scripture, verse 11 – “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have there being.” I prayed that to God, slowly and forcefully.

Try that sometime. Get alone in a quiet place and read that Scripture or another Scripture over and over out loud to God. Pray the Scripture to Him. The more you say it and pray it to God, the more meaning comes from the Scripture. This is an example of building intimacy with God.

True intimacy with God has to come from our personal efforts to get closer to Him and get to know Him better. It is great to go to church and listen to great messages, sing great songs and read Scripture together. It is also great to get together with other Christians and study the Bible or talk about the message you heard or pray together. Getting out and putting into practice what you are hearing and learning also builds intimacy with God. But if you never get alone with Him and pour out your heart to Him and share every part of yourself with Him your intimacy is limited. It only remains on the surface and doesn’t get real.

Personal worship is an important part of your growing relationship with Jesus Christ. If it has been a while since you did that now is a great time to start. Don’t allow your life to be so busy that you neglect the most important relationship you will ever have. Don’t face the day without plugging into the most amazing and powerful source we have. Start right now!

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Small Group Serving Story

On Monday night the guys from my small group joined together to help an elderly lady move from New Philadelphia to Dundee. I love getting out in the community and serving with the people in my small group. Over the last several years the groups I have been involved in have helped many people move and have also done other serving projects together.

These times of serving are usually an adventure. Nothing ever goes as planned, but the guys are always up to the task. On Monday night we ran into a water leak on the outside of the house we were moving out of. We also had to catch two cats to take along. John Troyer got that job! John also spent time talking with the lady and getting to know her.

Joel Stone was along to help with his dad Keith and Joel ended up driving her car to the new place. The car was not in very good condition and it even stalled a few times. Joel did a great job of getting her to the new place in one piece.

I just want to thank the guys that gave up an evening to go and help this lady move. She told me that this was the first time since she moved to Ohio that anyone helped her without wanted anything in return. After getting her moved into her new mobile home we prayed for her and blessed her new home.

That small act of kindness will have ripple effects we will never know about. When was the last time you helped someone without expecting anything in return? How is your family or small group making a difference in your neighborhood or community? You have to look for opportunities to bless and help people. It is so easy to forget about the elderly, the single parents, the handicapped and the sick. The local church, made up of small groups of people can really make a difference through small acts of kindness. There are over 120 small group at NewPointe Communty Church. Can you imagine what would happen if all those groups were intentional about helping and serving the people in our communities? Groups of people out touching lives every week!

Thanks again to John Troyer, Keith Stone, Joel Stone, Ryan Yoss, Daryl Kurtz, Greg Barnett and Phil Alleshire. They provided vehicles and labor that got this lady moved in one night.

Serve On!

Can I Pray for You?

When was the last time you said that to someone? Every day we come into contact with people and they may share something that is happening in their lives. When people trust you enough to share something personal, do you say you will pray for them or do you pray for them right then? Both are good, but taking the time to pray with them in the moment can be very powerful and life giving to that person.

I believe that Christ followers should be life givers. We are carrying on the ministry that Jesus started so long ago. Jesus loved to minister to people in a close personal way. He got his hands dirty and talked to people that were considered unclean. In our tidy, neat, safe lives do we take chances to minister up close with people that are considered unclean, uneducated, undesirable? Do we even take the time for the clean, educated desirable people?

Jesus talked so often of caring for and loving your neighbor. One of the most powerful ways to love your neighbor is to pray for them. Not only in private, but with them in person. Some people may not be ready to do that, and that is ok for now. However, God wants you to grow in your love for Him and other people. He wants us to be able to pray for people and extend care to people for Him.

This week I had a chance to pray with 6 people in person and 2 on the phone. Whenever I meet with someone, I try to end our time together by praying for them. I ask them if it would be ok if I prayed for them. I have only been turned down two times. You might say, Chad, your a pastor, so you are paid to pray with people. I might get more opportunities, but every Christian is called to be a minister. Every day God brings people across your path that need prayer. You might not be able to pray out loud with them at work, but you can pray silently. You can walk through your workplace and pray for your co-workers and boss. You can pray while you drop your children off at school. You can pray for your neighbors on your drive home from work.

When people come to church hurting and broken, they need prayer. The people that make up the church should be praying through out the week for the people that God is bringing to church. I believe when you pray for others, you take the focus off of yourself and it helps you have the right perspective on the church and the work of the church.

This Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. there will be a time of prayer in our prayer room here at NewPointe. Every Sunday morning people are praying for the morning service and inviting God to come and do a work in the people. Every Monday morning our staff gathers and prays together. Our prayer team prays for every request that comes in during the week. Prayer is a very powerful way to influence the world around us. It also is a great way to stay intimate with God and grow in our relationship with Him.

My challenge to everyone that reads this Blog is to pray for someone you come into contact with this week. Try to pray for someone every day, either in person, on the phone or just silently. Start your day by asking God to bring the people across your path that need prayer and then pray for them. Even if you don’t know how to pray for them, lift them up and ask God to minister to whatever they need. Step out of your comfort zone and take a risk.

Can I Pray for You?

Wedding community

This weekend one of the couples in our small group got married. Casey Miller and Jenn Margo were married on Saturday October 11, 2008. They have been in my couples small group for around 8 months. It has been fun getting to know them better and being able to participate in their wedding day. Most of my small group came to the wedding. I got to do the service as well.

We have been praying for Casey & Jenn as they start a new life together. We also did a study on the Five Love Languages earlier this year in our group. Having an engaged couple in our group was nice, because it helped the married couples remember what that was like for them. We all remember the falling in love stage of our marriages. It is neat to see different perspectives on marriage and relationships within our group.

I love community and building relationships. It is where the Christian life is really lived out. A small group that is real and authentic with each other is a special thing. Not many people get to experience and do life together. This wedding was a small taste of doing life together. Here are some pictures to enjoy:

This is John & Jennifer Troyer and their children, Amanda, Haley, Mitchel and Olivia. They host our small group on Sunday nights. The other picture is Keith & Tami Stone and Ryan & Carla Yoss with my wife Vikki.

Vikki & I

People, Personalities & Problems

I work in the people business. Most of what I do relates to people and relationships. It really is that way for most people. You may be in the manufacturing business, the construction business, the medical business, the retail business or the homemaker business – but really you are dealing with people and relationships.

Because we have to deal with people every day, we need to learn to understand people. If you don’t work at understanding people, you will quickly become frustrated, stressed and angry. Whether at work or at home or at church we need to understand how we are different and how to better communicate with each other. Most of the stress in our lives revolves around people and many times it is because we don’t understand why someone acts the way they do or why they say or do certain things.

In my workplace we have been working hard to better understand each other and how we are wired. It is very enlightening to see how God made people and how their personality affect the way they work and deal with people. We did a personality profile using the DISC system. I have done this several times before and found it helpful each time. This time we used colors to relate what our main styles were. Red, Yellow, Green and Blue. What was neat, was that we had all the colors represented on our team. This helps us get things done and to keep things moving forward.

It takes a lot of work to understand people. We tend to see the world through our own color. When we do that, we often expect others to act, respond and communicate like we do. When they don’t, we get frustrated and can even get angry. That is why the better you understand people the better you can communicate and have influence with them.

If you start to become curious about people and take the time to study people, your perspective can begin to change. When someone reacts in an unexpected way, instead of reacting back, you can ask some questions to try to discover why that just happened. The better you understand people the more favor and influence you will have with them. The better you understand yourself and why you do what you do, the more you can improve the way you respond and react and communicate.

If you are curious about what color I am, it’s mainly Yellow and Green with a little Red. Some words that describe me would be: Sociable, trusting, optimistic, warm, convincing, stable, steady, consistent, relaxed, patient, responsible, independent. I would be what they call a Promoting Relater. I am people oriented, and like working with teams to solve problems in creative ways. I am optimistic and enthusiastic. I tend to verbalize my feelings and have a positive sense of humor. I also have confidence to do the difficult assignments. At least that is what the report said.

OK, there is a small snap shot of how I am wired. Of course there is much more to who I am and it takes time to really get to know people and understand them. I just want to encourage you to start the process of understanding yourself and how God made you. You can check out this online inventory to discover your spiritual gifts and your DISC personality. The better you know your strengths and weaknesses the better you can interact with people.

To learn more, click here.

Fear Factor

All people experience fear; it’s a part of life. What we fear can be very different. Nine out of ten people are terrified by the thought of speaking before groups. One of my biggest fears is needles. I also fear roller coasters, heights and I really don’t care to be around snakes and spiders.

So there are some of my fears. No matter how foolish or humorous someone else’s fears may look to us, our own fears seem very serious and real. The thing to keep in mind is this; if we allow these fears to control our lives, it can stop us from making progress and growing and being used by God.

We all have core fears as well. Things like fear of being rejected, fear of failure, fear of loneliness, fear of being misunderstood, fear of feeling unimportant.

These deep fears can cause a lot of damage in our lives. They can keep us from making progress in our relationships with people and with God. Fear can paralyze us and keep us from experiencing the life that God has for us. Most of the time the things we fear have been blown way out of proportion. We build things up in our mind to the point where we can’t function properly. Fear can cause us to procrastinate and not do those hard, difficult things we know we need to do. Fear keeps us from being honest with people.

So how do we overcome our fears? For me I have had to face the needle and my roof. I have had to get shots, have blood drawn and had IVs put in. Each time I knew this was coming I had anxiety and fear. It was so bad, that often times I would faint during the procedure. I still struggle with this, but have learned to keep myself more calm and relaxed before hand. As for my fear of heights, I used to not be able to get up on my roof. Cleaning my gutters was a very stressful thing. But I faced that fear and started on one end of the roof that felt safer and worked my way to the steepest end. Now I can walk directly to the steep end.

My point is that we need to face our fears, because they are never as bad as we make them up to be. John Maxwell said it this way “Fear breeds inaction; inaction leads to lack of experience; lack of experience fosters ignorance; and ignorance breeds fear.”

So what are you missing in life because of fear? What experiences are you missing? What opportunities are you missing? Don’t let fear paralyze you; push through that fear and face it. Don’t wait to take that next step, make that tough call, have that tough talk or make that big decision. Invite God to partner with you on overcoming your fears. The Bible is full of fear not statements. God does not want us to have a spirit of fear. If we plug into His power, we can overcome those fears. On the other side of fear is progress, growth, joy and peace.